Have you found a way to help your groups make it through the holidays? You know how it is. Groups start off with a bang in September, many times transition to a second study in mid-October, and then just before Thanksgiving reach for the pause button.
“We’ve got so much going on…it just makes more sense to wait until January to meet again.” “With shopping, visiting family, and our kids schedules…we’ll be lucky if we can make it to the Christmas Eve service, let alone meeting beyond Thanksgiving!”
Sound familiar? That clearly is the challenge. And yet, groups that break too early often never get started again in January. Not to say they never start up again. Just that their chances are not near as good.
What can you do? I’ve found there are some important things you can do to help your groups make it through the holidays…and they’re not hard. You can do it.
- Help them transition from their launching study (whatever they were studying to begin the fall) to something that will keep them engaged through Thanksgiving (and ideally the first week of December). This is important. The key is to let your leaders know there is a next study before they finish their first study.
- Encourage every group to identify a way they can serve together in a ministry opportunity over the holidays. Whether it is at a Thanksgiving dinner provided by a ministry to the homeless or simply serving as greeters together for one of your Christmas Eve services, helping your groups connect to do something is a key to helping them make it through the holidays. It’s not hard to get this going. A quick call to local homeless shelters, schools in lower-income areas, etc. will often surface easy ways that your groups can put a toe in the water. At the same time, simply working with staff and key volunteers will uncover serving opportunities that a group can do together.
- Suggest a simple Christmas party as a final meeting of the year. An ornament exchange done White Elephant style is a fun activity. Food makes it great. Sharing communion as a part of the evening is a meaningful touch.
- Have your groups schedule their first meeting of the new year at their last meeting of the old year. Waiting until January to plan what’s next usually means starting later if at all.
These four simple steps will often be the difference between surviving the holidays and a “pleasant memory of the last time we were in a group.” And they really are simple! A little action right now will make a big difference in the survival rate of your newest groups. Why not take action today, get this simple strategy rolling, and let me know how it goes? I’d love to hear your plan!